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First trip to China / 5 star hotel and tour company comment requests

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Nov 13th, 2010, 11:07 AM
  #41
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,314
Yes, emphatically, to the restaurant question. Be aware that it is not fancy.
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Nov 14th, 2010, 06:10 AM
  #42
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 226
Hello all...just an update on my original post. Since I posted we have had new opportunity to travel with family on a safari next summer in South Africa. So we are torn between China and SA! If it is China (we should know after Thanksgiving) then Easy Tour China's itinerary and price still is my favorite, although I have yet to read very many first hand reports thay I can trust. I was able to call a couple who lives in South Carolina who actually used Easy Tour China and they had a good experience. It would still be nice to have a more substantial confirmation of how they do things.

The plan is:

3 nights - The Peninsula Beijing - Dongheng District

2 nights -Sofitel on Remim Square Xian Hotel

3 nights - Lhasa Hotel - Four Points by Sheraton

fly to Chengdu to see the Pandas then fly to Guilin

2 nights - Sheraton Guilin Hotel – Xiufeng District

Li river cruise then

1 night - Green Lotus Hotel, Yangshuo

2 nights - Le Royal Meridien Shanghai

The we will depart Shanghai on a cruise to Japan and South Korea with return to Shanghai for one more night at the JW Marriott (points) before returning to US.

It is really hard to choose between this and the safari with great relatives....

Thanks to everyone for all the help. I will continue to plan both trips until we make a decision!
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Nov 14th, 2010, 06:41 AM
  #43
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,160
I vote for China over a safari in S. Africa during their winter months, unless it was to Kenya in August(something I'm planning on doing soon).

I would do more research on the cruise especially since it's during typhoon season.
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Feb 22nd, 2011, 09:57 AM
  #44
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 2
Hi, Quite late in joining blog of your possible trip to China in June. Went for 3 weeks in 2005 and plan to do another 3 weeks in June this year.
Torn between private and group tour. Obviously group tour is less expensive and we know that we can opt out of any particular days activity to freelance on that day. Original list of sites and cities would have required 5 or 6 weeks so trimmed down to 3 weeks. For private tours have been in contact with Easy Tour China, Travel Chine Guide and Dragon Delight and requested 4 star facilities. Found very close itineraries to our taste at China Spree and China Focus Travel for group tours. Both failed to address questions or return calls for info but may try again b4 making final decisions in couple of weeks. bbrowne at aol dot com
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Feb 27th, 2011, 05:18 PM
  #45
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 226
Thanks again for all the replies. A quick update...today we made the decision to finally move forward with China as opposed to South Africa. Our travel dates have changed slightly and we need to work out air from Iowa (wish we lived in a "hub" city), but are excited to start definite plans! We decided to use East Tour China. I did lots of research and decided to use a tour agent as opposed to "on our own". I know there are trade-offs and we are ok with this. We chose Easy Tour China based on a combination of price, itinerary and personal phone conversations with others who had used their services recently.

So the devils are in the details, as they say! The next step for us it to coordinate specific flights, land itinerary (Beijing 4 nights, Xi'an 2 nights, Lhasa 4 nights, Chengdu to see hold a panda followed by Guilin 2 nights, Yangshou 1 night, Shanghai 1 night, 7 night cruise to Japan and South Korea, Shanghai 2 nights). I know that we are doing way too much, but we like this sort of travel. Lots of variety. we like to sample a region and choose to come back for longer stays if we really like something.
I will actively continue to monitor this board for all your advise and recommendations. Thanks in advance for helping us with our next adventure!
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Feb 28th, 2011, 01:57 PM
  #46
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,854
Chengdu was heavily damaged in the large earthquake and the panda reserve has been closed since then.
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Feb 28th, 2011, 02:42 PM
  #47
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 492
Another one of these: is this palace better than that palace? I want everything gold plated and every inch as good as a top flight suburban home in Kansas. Nothing but the very best when I travel in 3rd world nations.
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Mar 1st, 2011, 05:48 PM
  #48
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 7
I don’t think you need to worry about the hotels if you’re traveling with a tour company, they will take care of everything for you. We used China Odyssey Tours when we traveled China in 2009, and visited Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Guilin in our 10-day tour. Tight schedule but great fun.
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Mar 7th, 2011, 06:11 PM
  #49
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Things are coming together nicely. I spoke to our agent in China (Charlie Chen with East Your China in Guilin) and have made arrangements. We also booked our cruise at the end of the China tour(Shanghai, Japan and South Korea). We'll stay one more night in Beijing than planned and will stay another night in Shanghai after the cruise. We were able to get the Shanghai JW Marriott with points and am looking forward to that. So....we are officially on our way to China in 3 months! Now to find reasonable air from Iowa. Any suggestions? The best I've found is FlyChina.com.
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Mar 11th, 2011, 02:36 PM
  #50
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Update...Air is booked! Flight from Iowa to Beijing, and return Shanghai back to Iowa best price (after monitoring for 3 or 4 months) was a whopping $1700 per person. I sure wish I lived in a "hub" city. Next step is visa. Any suggestions for reliable and reasonably priced Visa services?
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Mar 11th, 2011, 02:52 PM
  #51
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,999
We used travisa for our Indian visas and I was very impressed by their service. And I loved that they kept us informed every step of the way via email.
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Mar 12th, 2011, 11:11 PM
  #52
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I also used Travisa for India (there's no choice, the embassy requires you to use them) and was impressed. I've also used them in the past for other visas. You'll have to use a service for China, too, as they don't accept mailed-in applications.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 05:38 AM
  #53
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 226
Thanks for the advice. I'll check these out. I also came across China Visa Service Center www.mychinavisa.com and will compare today. Thanks again.
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Mar 13th, 2011, 09:25 AM
  #54
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 704
I am heading to China in May and used these guys for visa: http://www.peninsulavisa.com/
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Mar 13th, 2011, 01:29 PM
  #55
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 15
This just overkill. Not sure how you can decipher all this chatter. I was concerned when a buddy and I went for the first time 7 years ago. We were lucky. Found a west coast operator who promised a very small group (less than 8), Beijing, Xian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai, most meals, theater, flights SFO to Beijing/Shanghai to SFO, and all internal flights....for under $2K PP!! Ended up, because it was the off season, there was only my buddy and I, and car, guide, and driver in each city!!! The guide we had in Suzhou/Shanghai (Emma Chu) still emails us from time to time. Unreal. My advice: research the agencies like crazy. Deals are out there, especially from Nov-Mar. Good luck!
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Mar 27th, 2011, 08:12 PM
  #56
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 35
I'm going to Beijing with my best friend and her husband and we'll be on our own. It's cheaper to book your flights and hotel together than separately. We're flying out of HongKong though which is much cheaper than flying from the USA. We've traveled to Europe on our own as well, so, I guess Beijing will be a piece of cake
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Mar 27th, 2011, 08:15 PM
  #57
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 35
It's ALWAYS CHEAPER to travel Off-season anywhere in the world. There's more travel sales, too.
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Mar 28th, 2011, 12:03 AM
  #58
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 23,102
"cheaper to book your flights and hotel together than separately" - gross generalization that even outside China is likely only true if you stay in western chain hotels that appear on expedia and the like. Certainly not true for China if you stay in locally owned hotels. Just show up and bargain.
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Mar 28th, 2011, 12:57 AM
  #59
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2
Drew: Any word on how Easy Tour China is working out? I'm thinking about using them for something next week, and would greatly appreciate any assessment you might have! Thanks much.
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Mar 28th, 2011, 12:59 AM
  #60
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2
By the way, I stayed in the Westin Bund a few years back. I absolutely loved it. The rooms are a bit on the small side, in case that bothers you. But the rooms are beautiful, the services is exceptional. Highly recommend. I definitely wouldn't stay in Pudong...cool to look at, but not a lot of fun to stay there, as there's not much but offices and shopping malls.
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